"I thank God for this beautiful moment and I thank God for each and every one of you for dedicating this home to my children and myself," says Sondra Barnes of Meridian through tears of happiness.
From those words, it's obvious that Mrs. Sondra Barnes is thankful for a new home. Saturday was the dedication and blessing of the Sondra Barnes Family Home. Lauderdale County's Habitat for Humanity built the new home after Barnes and her family lost everything in Hurricane Katrina.
"Actually this family is local, but it's one of our 17 families that we put into new housing since Katrina that were affected by the storm," explains Fonda Rush, the Executive Director of the Lauderdale County Habitat for Humanity.
But the Barnes family has since moved on from the devastating storm. Their spirits were much higher as they took a glimpse at their future home.
"When Habitat finishes a home, a special part of what we do is do a house blessing. Also, we have people that have worked on it and people that have been involved with the house building come and we celebrate that the house is through and that the family is getting ready to move in."
Construction on the house started in January. It wrapped up at the end of March and is now ready to shelter the Barnes family. College students helped build the house as part of the Collegiate Challenge.
"And this year we had over 100 college students who came in from the end of February to the end of March working to help us, actually on two Habitat homes, but especially this one," says Rush.
The college students and other volunteers put a lot of time and effort into building the house. They say those long hours were worth it.
"When you see the families work so hard, to get into a new home and what a new home means to them, stability of their family, stability of their life, it is just really rewarding. And you also know that you've accomplished something that God has asked us to do and that's to care for our neighbor."
For Habitat volunteers, it's that much better when their neighbor is grateful.
"First of all I want to say thank you Lord for each and every one of you being here today," thanks Barnes.